Pioneer by A Verb for Keeping Warm

KBP-22 KBP-31 KBP-35  It’s been been an odd year with me and this blog. At the beginning of October, with a nudge from a friend, I tried to commit to a post a week, and it worked well – until I flew to England for a few weeks and things got a little left behind. Eitherway, I am very excited to be back and sharing a post all about the wonderful yarn I used for my design The Curve. If you remember, this was my first adult garment design and knowing that it would be a big endeavor I decided to go all in and used a yarn that I completely love and admire! The reason? It’s CA fiber, naturally dyed, and 100% American processed. And not only that, it is made from the softest Organic Merino, and put up in the hugely versatile worsted weight. This yarn is Pioneer, and the brains behind this amazing feat is Kristine of A Verb for Keeping Warm, in Oakland, CA. She has shared her journey in making the first and second batch of Pioneer on her blog, along with a conversation with the farmer who raised the wool, Sally Fox (who if you haven’t met her, please dig deeper – have you ever seen naturally coloured cotton?). With the intention to continue to share with you more about the yarn used in each of my designs (‘Behind the Yarn‘), I asked Kristine to tell us a little more about Pioneer and AVFKW. Whats more, you can find a discount for any Pioneer purchase good through the end of the week! See below for more details.

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Annie : Firstly, can you tell us a little about A Verb for Keeping Warm, what it does, and why it exists?
Kristine: A Verb for Keeping Warm encompasses my love for all aspects of textiles: from growing the materials, to processing them, dyeing them, and making them into primarily wearable garments and accessories. I grew up visiting my Grandmother in rural Illinois, which is where I learned to sew and knit. I traveled to Jaipur, India in college to study Art and Architecture. Weaving and dyeing could be commonly seen. Up until this point, I had not thought a lot about how cloth is made or how color was applied, so it was a very eye-opening experience. I was entranced with the clothing there – and learning to read the different styles. I was particularly keen on a group of semi-nomadic people – the Rabari. The women wore all black with panels of intricately hand-embrodiered designs. I came to learn that they these designs were actually series of motifs, all named, and formed a designated catalog, which when looking closely at the style in which they were applied and materials used could communicate where she was from, how old she is, and where in the region she travels. From this experience, I knew that I wanted to work with textiles and people who are drawn to make them – A Verb for Keeping Warm is this forum. And through that forum, I try to teach as many people as possible about textiles, and how to make them. It also provides me the space to practice natural dyeing – which I consider my core interest – and something I hope to study over the course of my life.

Pioneer – it is quite the feat! For those who don’t know, can you take us back to the beginning, from where was this yarn born?
I adore Pioneer! I had been looking to create a California-based yarn since Verb began in 2007. For the past few years Fibershed has held the Fine Wool Fiber Symposium. The first year, I met Sally Fox. We got to talking and she said she had some wool that she was willing to sell. Sally has been a long term hero of mine – so it was shocking in the best way possible that she was willing to work together. After the symposium, we got together, I purchased the wool, sent it to Green Mountain Spinnery, and thus was born Pioneer!

Where do you get the inspiration for dyes and colourways?
California’s natural landscape – the greys, light yellows and greens – are always captivating. I find natural dyes enticing due to their limitations and nuances. To create lightfast colors which are non-toxic, do little to alter the texture the hand of the wool, and can be reproduced for production, there are only about 8-10 dyes and one mordant that I can use. I use about 8 dyes to create over 100 colorways. It is similar to a chef having access to 8 ingredients – and needing to cook over 100 delicious meals.

So where can we get our hands on Pioneer?
Pioneer is available on Verb’s online store – and in our brick and mortar in Oakland.

Anything new we can expect to see over at Verb in this upcoming knitter’s season?
We were just gifted a Montana wool company – named Sweet Grass. This company was originally started by the rancher, Carolyn Greene. About ten years ago, she felt that it was getting too much to handle – with needing to care for the farm. So her friend and fiber-lover Patti Bobonich purchased it. Patti and Carolyn have had a great relationship – with Carolyn focusing on the sheep and Patti on the yarn. A few months ago, Patti decided that she would like to travel and retire. Patti has been a longtime friend of mine and Verb’s and due to our work with Sally, she graciously offered us Sweet Grass. There are two yarns that Patti designed and milled which we have picked up and naturally dyed. We have named them Clover (200y / 50g)  and Big Sky. (160y / 100g). They are both mule-spun at one of the last two mule-spinning facilities in North America. We have 1000 pounds of Targhee in Montana – and are currently discussing where to send it to be milled. In October, we traveled to Montana to see Patti and to meet Carolyn and her sheep. If you would like to read about our journey to Montana, I wrote about it in a series on the Verb blog called Textile Byways: Montana 2014.  

What is a day in the life of Kristine?
Girl! Who even knows!!! Since the book – during the book – my life is on its head – to be continued!

And lastly, for those of you who would love to find Pioneer in your stockings this Christmas, let your loved ones know that Kristine has kindly offered 15% off any and all Pioneer purchases until end of day Sunday 14th December using the code ‘byannieclaire‘ at check out! Shop now!

The Curve cardigan available here

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Beginning and end

DSC_0037 DSC_0040 DSC_0044DSC_0001 DSC_0004 DSC_0017 DSC_0029 DSC_0034DSC_0048 DSC_0049Here on the Northern Coastline of California we don’t really get a true summer. Surprisingly, the typically ‘sunny’ months of July and August are usual socked in with fog, which means that tomatoes and summer squash are a no-grow around here. Thankfully, the weather makes up for it in Spring and Fall when we gratefully receive mini summers – the unexpected heat and pouring bright sunshine doing its best to rid us of the doom and gloom of winter rain and summer fog.
It feels like we are beginning to think about the hibernation of winter; making sure equipment is away, that we have enough wood, a dry place for the dogs to hide in the rain. I am enjoying the last of my flowers,  picking and drying zinnias and marigolds for winter dyeing. Hopefully I will get another round of blooms before the much cooler weather hits.
Between the misty sunrise and hazy sundown, and everything else life is throwing at us, I’ve managed to finish the samples of the pattern I was having horrible frog-itus with. Just a bit more editing and chart building and it will be on its way. And in wrapping up one project, I am beginning something new in Sincere Sheep‘s amazingly squishy Shepherdess Worsted. It’s going to be a fun one, full of cables and short-rows – my fave!!

A Sheepy Yoke that fits!

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There is nothing quite like knitting for a baby. Your own baby at that. I did my fair share whilst pregnant, and took people’s advice and tried to knit projects in a range of sizes so that my baby-to-be would not out grow them in a few months! Louella has slowly been working through them, and in the past few weeks I have been SO excited that she finally fits into her Sheepy Yoke cardi! Remember this one? I took the Tulip Yoke Baby Cardigan and traded the tulips for sheep. You can find more details and a copy of my chart in this post. I’m so enjoying these cooler days for which knitwear is right at home!

I had to rip back once more but, after three hoods and two button bands, my current design for Little Woolens is finally off the needles! I swiftly cast on another one (actually just a girly version to that hoodie) and as you can see have already ripped back once as after two inches of 2×2 rib I realised I had cast on the wrong size. Blurgh. This design is cursed, I’m sure of it.

A change in season

DSC_0033 DSC_0039DSC_0050 DSC_0043 DSC_0483DSC_0047Like most other knitters out there, this change of season into Autumn is a sweet time of year. To feel the temperature drop, watch the leaves change colour, and lucky for us experience the first rain of the season we are left with the biggest wave of cast-on-itus. We so fondly look forward to the wool-clad months.

I’ve been somewhat busy knitting over here. Since the end of July we have been birthing more baby goats, in waves, some weeks busier than others. Often I crave some sort of steadfast rhythm so that I can set myself realistic goals and plan a bit, but then I remember I’m a farmer, and this is how it goes. It is all seasonal. As of right now (ask me again in a few months) I’m looking forward to darker evenings, shorter days, and hopefully more hours with my needles.

I did manage to finish of a new hoodie for Louella. I chose the R&R Hoodie by Tanis Lavalee. Such a classic design, and really fun to knit. I naturally dyed some Californian Cormo using madder root. I achieved the variegated look by entering dry fiber into the dye pot, so the uptake of the pigment was staggered. I love how it has come out, I have in fact now woven in all the ends and it is just awaiting a good soak and block – and a zip to be sewn in! Whilst I am no stranger to sewing in zips, I have not ever put a zip into a knitted garment, so I welcome any tips, and wish me luck!

Other projects I have on the go are new designs. A cosy, cosy, cosy, cosy, did I say cosy? chunky knit sweater with super long sleeves and a very comfortable fit. This is a special project for a dear friend of mine, and I am also writing it up in multiple sizes to share with you guys as a pattern. The super squishy O-Wool Legacy Bulky weight yarn has it flying off the needles!
Then another big project I have going is something I will have talk more about another day, but it involves sweet baby knits, an amazing friend and our toddlers. We find our new home at LittleWoolens.com, and we hope to share much, much more with you very soon!* I have multiple designs on the go for this collaboration but recently had to rip out a lot of colourwork :S! I’m now back on track and LOVE how its coming together – the best kind of Christmassy knitting!!! I will be looking for testers soon, so knitter mama’s with babies, give us a shout! Eeek, can’t wait to share more!

*Little Woolens is also on instagram, please join us there!

Pattern release : Late Summer Meadow

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Introducing my latest pattern – Late Summer Meadow! I love to wear long shawls, wraps and scarves but having an active life, being a mother and farmer, I often get annoyed at draping fabric getting in my way of things. And so this shawl-take on the poncho was born. Designed to be worn in both styles, the light but surprisingly warm fabric of Sincere Sheep’s naturally dyed Vernal creates the perfect shoulder hugging accessory to carry you through the transition of late summer into early autumn. Worked top down and in the round, the cowl is worked in simple stockinette which flows into a fully textured poncho. The charted poncho section features simple yet eye catching stitch patterns which contribute to an engaging project and, once finished, an honest wow factor!

Yarn : 2 (2, 2) skeins Sincere Sheep Vernal; 65% Silk/35% Linen, 750yds/686m, 4oz; photographed in ‘Suerte’, or approximately 1000 (1100, 1200) yds lace weight yarn.
Needles : US 4 (3.5mm) needles or size needed to obtain gauge, 16” (40cm) circular and 32” (80cm) circular.
Gauge : 24 sts and 37 rows = 4 inches/10cm in St st
Notions : Stitch markers, tapestry needle, tape measure.


Enjoy 20% off (no coupon needed) until the end of today, Sep 4th!

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Words…

KBP-14I can knit, I can work with numbers, but I’m not good with words, and cannot spell to save my life (you may have noticed)! So when it comes to naming patterns I’m often stumped. I’m getting ready to release the pattern for this shawl-take on the poncho next week and need your help! If you have any pattern name suggestions please let me know!! Who’s ever I choose gets a free pattern :). Enter by commenting on Facebook, or Instagram. Thank you!

{Among Friends} All American Club

We are full swing into a kidding season here at the farm which means long, long hours, helping the mamas birth, but more importantly feeding the babies and making sure they grow to be as healthy as possible. Needless to say my knitting time has shrunk, as sleeping hours are precious (and vital), but I’m chiming in here last minute to let you know what is going on over at {Among Friends}.

For those of you who don’t know {Among Friends} is a yarn and fiber club that grew out of a friendship between Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit and Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep. Brooke and Lorajean first met at a fiber festival in Oregon when Lorajean’s eldest son was just a baby and Brooke was pregnant. Sensing that they were kindred spirits from their first interaction, the ladies struck up a friendship that has only grown deeper over time. Strong believers in the concept that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” Brooke and Lorajean created {Among Friends} as a way to work with and support the businesses of all the wonderful designers, dyers, and creative people they’ve met over the years.

AA2-BannerThey host different clubs (and lately dye classes) throughout the year, each with a different theme, and I wanted to let you know about their All American Club (for which the signups finish TODAY!!). As you know I’m a HUGE fan of domestic fiber and every month I feel like I find a new source of fiber that is grown and spun in America. It’s exciting times! You can imagine how I jumped at the chance to be involved in a club that will send you domestic fiber, dyed by some fabulous indie dyers, straight to your doorstep, and to support a great group of friends.

As I’m letting you know very last minute I thought I’d copy all the info over from Among Friends site and the link you need to grab yourself a spot!!


 All American: Take 2 | An Every-Other-Month Club!

AA2Join Among Friends as we continue to explore the wonderful yarns the US has to offer.

Take 2 of our All-American club features dyers Alpenglow, Elemental Affects, Knitted Wit, Sincere Sheep, and Pigeonroof Studios, along with 2 custom patterns by Annie Claire and Hillary Smith Callais.

Included in each shipment will be pattern suggestions plus some background on each yarn. This 5-shipment club with ship on the 15th of every other month (September 2014 – May 2015).

The first shipment will be sent out on 9/15 and sign-ups will be open until 8/15 or when the club sells out.  We look forward to you joining us on this exciting adventure knitting the best of the US wool yarns!

Sign up today to enjoy five shipments of the All-American club for $180 + shipping ($15 within the US and $45 to Canada). The first shipment will go out September 15, 2014.

 SIGN UP HERE!